Convention officially opens tomorrow, but some legislative committee work has already begun and people are already running around looking busy. Mainly these couple of preliminary days are the time for family reunion. You cannot walk more than a couple dozen steps without seeing someone you know and renewing acquaintances. The agenda is mostly free and easy (unless the person you meet is running for something, then there are the ever-present buttons to receive with "the pitch."
Three events yesterday bear a small note. At 5 pm, Integrity held a reception for deputies, a very nice affair with a couple hundred people present. I was asked to speak briefly about my role as Integrity's floor leader in the House of Deputies. I began by remarking how good it was to finally be in the House of Deputies, which got loud, sustained applause, which was very gratifying.
Second, I went to the Gala Dinner of the Union of Black Episcopalians, a very fine affair with perhaps 400 people. It was a night to honor black women and awards were given in the name of Mattie Hopkins, Verna Dozier, Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, and Anna (Pauli) Murray. Some of you will remember some of these folks and their valiant ministries in the Church. Bishop Gayle Harris was on of the presenters. It was a "we've come a long way baby" moment in that Integrity had a table at the dinner and Pauli Murray (who was the first African-American woman ordained in TEC) was spoken of in a way that made her being a lesbian seem rather matter-of-fact. All of this would not have been possibly just ten years ago.
Third, we had our first meeting of the Consultation Steering Committee. The Consultation is a coalition of 12 peace and justice organization related to the Episcopal Church, but not in any official way. Many of these groups have been working together since 1985 when the coalition was formed. We worked on endorsements for elections last night, which is always hard work. Our chairs and floor leaders, Byron Rushing and Diane Pollard, have asked me to be their deputy floor leader this year, which is both exciting and terrifying.
The Consultation produces a daily paper here called Issues. You can access it at www.theconsultation.org.